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Vol. 4 - No.01 January, 2022 Nooseletter Home SUBMIT AN ARTICLE
 
Chronicle of the Old West
Dakota Livesay | Old West Historian
It's interesting to review the punishment for criminals during the Old West. Often murders get off with a slap on the wrist, while other times, a minor crime resulted in an extended stay in prison, or worse. Sometimes the difference was the crime's time and location.

Continued.... (see below)
Robert Zachary
Robert Zachary was a minor criminal, at best. He operated as a member of Henry Plummer’s gang in Montana back in the early 1860’s.

At the time, Henry Plummer had quite an operation. Outwardly, he was a local sheriff. But, he made his real money as the leader of a gang that numbered in the hundreds called “The Innocents.” Plummer was, for all intents and purposes, the crime lord of the Montana gold fields. Finally, the citizens of Montana got fed up with the lawlessness, and formed the Montana Vigilantes.

As we indicated earlier, Robert Zachary was a minor member of the Innocents. In November of 1863, Zachary and two other men robbed the Virginia City–Salt Lake City mail coach. Within a few weeks, it was discovered who did the robbery, and on January 25, 1864, Zachary was taken captive at a boarding house. The owner of the house insisted that Zachary get a good meal before any actions were taken. Following breakfast, the vigilantes held court, and about as long as it had taken Zachary to eat his meal, a guilty verdict was handed down, with the obvious vigilante sentence.

Before sentence was carried out, Zachary wrote a letter to his mother, brothers and sisters. In the letter, he warned against drinking, card-playing and bad company, which he said had brought him to this spot. Zachary was then taken to the gallows and hanged.

It’s interesting to note that normally a stage robbery would result in a year or two at the nearest territorial prison. But, Zachary had robbed the stage in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Robert Zachary
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